2007 Frankfurt Auto Show: 2008 Jaguar XF

  • Competes with: BMW 5 Series, Mercedes E-Class, Lexus GS
  • Looks like: An ungainly S-Type crashed into the beautiful C-XF concept
  • Drivetrain: 420-hp, supercharged 4.2-liter V-8; 300-hp, 4.2-liter V-8 and 240-hp, 3.0-liter V-6, all mated to a six-speed automatic transmission; rear-wheel drive
  • Hits dealerships: March 2008; dealers are taking orders now

When the concept version of the new XF debuted at last year’s Detroit auto show, it was heralded as the car that would save Jaguar. It’s hard to remember any other concept drawing such undisputed praise. Jaguar vowed to build a production model true to the sexy concept, and it did — for the most part.

MMS ID 64601 (created by CM Utility) automatic-content-migration

While we’re happy with three-quarters of the S-Type replacement’s exterior, the front headlights are almost unforgivable. Instead of the sleek daggers of the concept (right), someone — and if Jaguar can find the person responsible, he or she should be fired – inserted a round element right into the middle of that dagger (left). The result is a disjointed design that transforms this otherwise fine automobile into a mixed bag.

Besides the debatable looks outside, we can’t complain about the massive interior upgrade that mimics, and perhaps even improves upon, the new XK sports coupe.

There are some neat tricks inside, too. The air conditioning vents close when the car is off, and when you start the engine they roll open and into their last position. The shifter is a recessed knob that rises out of the center console when needed. The glove box and interior lights can be controlled via motion sensors instead of switches or buttons. Just wave your hand over the light and it turns on. There’s also voice recognition to control the stereo, navigation, telephone, climate and other settings.

The choice of three engines, all controlled by Jaguar’s excellent shift-by-wire six-speed automatic transmission, is a fine array of power. Each XF model gets shift paddles, as well. We honestly can’t wait to drive one, but still wonder how much it would take to change those headlights before March 2008 rolls around.

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Former managing editor David Thomas has a thing for wagons and owns a 2010 Subaru Outback and a 2005 Volkswagen Passat wagon. Email David Thomas

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